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Friday, 12 June 1970

Mr CHARLES JONES (Newcastle) - 1 thank the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) for tabling that report. We knew that he had it and would be making its contents known at some point in lbc debate. I thought it would be appropriate for him to do so at this stage so that honourable members who wished to speak on the Bill would have this information in their possession. The Bill before the House is an amendment to the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Act. which was introduced in 1967 and amended in 1.968. This legislation implemented the recommendations of the National Stevedoring Industry Conference - probably better known as the Woodward Committee - which was set up by Sir Robert Gordon Menzies in October 1965, when he was Prime Minister. At that time there was great industrial turmoil on the waterfront. The Waterside Workers Federation and the Federal Government were almost in a head on conflict. Stoppages were the order of the day. In all, the state was reached where work was almost impossible. The waterfront had come to an almost permanent halt, and something had to be done.

As a result of conferences between the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Government at that dme it was finally resolved that the Conference should be appointed. Mr A. E. Woodward, Q.C. was appointed by the Government as the Chairman. The Conference was made up of representatives of the Association of Employers of Waterfront Labour, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia and the Department of Labour and National Service. The Conference mct and deliberated for a considerable time. Finally it submitted a report to the Minister on 13th April 1967. The legislation was introduced in this place on 31st October 1967. With very limited time to study the legislation, the Opposition was required, some 26 or 28 hours later, on 1st November to debate it. lt must be obvious from that very brief summary that I have given of what took place that the legislation on that occasion was hastily thrown together, In 1968 a further amendment was introduced to overcome some of the technical and administrative problems which had not been foreseen on thai occasion. In the Bill before the House at present not only is a change proposed in the general constitution of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority but also an attempt is made to cure some of the problems associated with administration.

The Bill (hat we are now asked to debate provides for the continuation of permanent employment in the stevedoring industry for an additional 2 years from 1st July 1970 until 30th June 1972. The Bill amends the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority from a 3-man authority io a l-man authority; that is, from a chairman and 2 member's to a director, lt also provides the necessary machinery to establish that position. The Bill grants statutory backing to the National Stevedoring Industry Conference by reconstituting it as the Stevedoring Industry Council. As 1 said a moment ago, the Bill also corrects some of the administrative anomalies that have crept into the legislation. The Opposition supports the legislation but feels that rather than having the Director as the sole member of the authority it should consist of a 3- man directorate, not necessarily as it is at the moment with 3 full time, permanent members, but with a permanent director and 2 part time directors. One should be from the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour, and one from the Waterside Workers Federation. Representatives of those 2 organisations could work with the Director, assisting him and advising him on the functions and operations of the Authority.

The Opposition feels that, with the setting up of the Stevedoring Industry Council, this tripartite principle could be transferred into the operations of the directorship of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. That principle has worked for some considerable time with a chairman and 2 members. Why not retain it but change it to a level where it contains direct representatives of the employer and employee authorities that I have just referred to? We feel that the legislation should have been introduced much earlier. People in the industry have been greatly concerned about what is going to happen to them and their permanent employment. We do not feel that there is any risk of the Government not proceeding with its policy of permanent employment on the waterfront. The general feeling is that the egg has been scrambled and there is not much risk of its being put back together again.

The legislation having been introduced here in 1967, the Government has had 2 years to determine what it is going to do with it, what its policy is going to be, whether it is going to continue its policy of permanent employment and how it is going to continue with it. Yet at this late hour, with a matter of just a few more weeks to go until the expiry of the existing legislation which terminates on 30th June, we have this Bill brought to us on the basis that it is another piece of temporary legislation for another 2 years.

I refer to the matter of permanent employment of waterfront labour at ports throughout Australia. I understand that Whyalla is to be granted a system of permanent employment in the very near future and that discussions are taking place at Darwin in regard to this matter. Permanent employment should have been granted to Townsville, Hobart, Burnie and Bundaberg in the last 2 years because they are ready for it. The waterside workers and the employers both want it and therefore it should be proceeded with as early as possible. The Department of Labour and National Service has been a little lax in not having brought this legislation down and had decisions made about the introduction of permanent employment. The stoppages on the waterfront that have occurred in recent months can be explained and justified. The introduction of permanent employment and the establishing of the Stevedoring Industry Council are commendable. The Opposition supports the scheme. It will bring about some degree of stability to the waterfront industry which has been a most turbulent one. History shows that there have always been strikes and trouble on the waterfront. The proposed scheme can bring about some degree of permanency of employment and stability for the men and for the industry.

The setting up of the Stevedoring Industry Council is an excellent idea. It creates direct participation for the industry. The employer representatives and the union representatives at the highest level of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation will meet regularly to discuss the problems. Previously if a dispute arose ofttimes the men went on strike. The employer would not talk to them and the tribunal would not talk to them because they were on strike. Strikes were imminent. They were certain to take place on certain days. Now we have an organisation which is able to meet, to call the parties together and overcome the problems that are in existence. I should like to see the Stevedoring Industry Council or the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority examine, or, if need be, some separate organisation created to examine and investigate the whole ramifications of the waterfront today, not only on the basis of employment but also on the basis of the organisation of the industry, the provision of machinery, the organising of ports and the development of ports. At the present time in Australia 44 different port authorities conduct their affairs on the basis of the development, construction and provision of wharfage and all the other matters. I should like to see a number of these authorities eliminated or a central authority, such as the Stevedoring Industry Council, created by the Government to do this job.

In the United States of America there is a New York Port Authority in which 2 States are involved. They were unable to operate individually so they drew up legislation to establish the authority. People talk about the United States as being the great land of free enterprise. Here is a Socialist organisation if ever there was one, the New York Port Authority which conducts all the shipping operations in New York. That Authority conducts airports such as Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark. It is examining the development of Triborough This is all being carried out by a Stateowned instrumentality and if necessary the facilities arc leased out to other people to operate. At Kennedy airport the Authority owns all the facilities. It either makes the land available or constructs the terminals and then leases them out. The same thing applies to the shipping port section; the Authority owns the facilities, builds them and, where necessary, leases them. This is what we should be looking at here in Australia.

At Tokyo, Kobe. Rotterdam - which is the largest port in the world - and even London, the facilities are either State-owned or are owned by a city council and are operated by government authorities charged with the responsibility of developing the ports. Instead of dealing with employment, wages and so on, the Commonwealth Government should be moving into a much broader field of the stevedoring industry. One can pick up newspapers at different times and find references to the inefficiency of and the poor conditions that prevail in Australian ports. An article in the 'Daily Mirror' of 5th May 1970 states:

New South Wales ports inadequate for future.

Port facilities in New South Wales have no hope of roping with cargoes of the future unless they are given far more shore space.

This conclusion was reached today by delegates of the Captain Cook Bi centenary symposium in Sidney.

Here is another example:

Dock congestion causing eight hours delay.

A leading Sydney exporter is complaining that trucks delivering cargo for New Guinea-bound ships are often delayed up to eight hours because of traffic congestion to the wharves.

The exporter is one of a growing list of shippers and ship owners to complain that inadequate facilities in the Port of Sydney are becoming an increasing problem.

Another example is to be found in the Australian Financial Review' of 24th March, when the president of the Australian Road Transport Federation said:

The scandalous ranks of trucks which form up outside Sydney wharves are a blot on the largest ami busiest port in the Commonwealth. 1 do not wan; to develop this point any further. 1 think I have made the point sufficiently thai ports in Australia are in a bad state. They are not as efficient as they should be. There should be some central organisation with finances available to develop them. After all, the Commonwealth' Government controls the finances of this country and it is in a position to make money available. We should be planning and developing ports throughout this nation. I do not wish to attack one authority as against another but I know of one case where within 20 miles 2 Slates, possibly on the basis of parish pump politics, are developing ' 2 deep sea ports. That is just a waste of national resources. We should have a co-ordinating authority to deal with such matters.

As to transport facilities, too often the States through their railway systems are channelling freight back to their own capital cities when it would be much cheaper and much easier to direct it to the capital city or an export port of an adjoining State. There is a great need to have coordination through a central transport planning authority. Another feature which concerns the Opposition is the revolution (hat has taken place in the carriage of freight. An enormous change has taken place as a result of the introduction of containerisation, roll-on roll-off types of ships, stern loaders, side loaders, the Scandia type of ships, and unit loading. Containerisation has superseded the conventional type of ships with great holds and in some isolated cases shore cranes. We now have ships with cranes and the handling gear for the movement of cargo from ship to shore or from shore to ship. This revolution has had a widespread effect on the waterfront today.

Only (his week the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) announced that the population of Australia has now passed the 121 million mark. Whilst Australia's volume of imports and exports is continuing to increase we find that the work force on the waterfront has dropped from 22,744 in 1964-65 to 18,040 in 1968-69, which is the latest year for which figures are available. During the last 5 years 4,704 men have left this industry. Some investigation should be undertaken by the Department of Labour and National Service or some other responsible body associated with the industry to find out just what is happening. Is the introduction of containers in the best interests of Australia's economy? Does containerisation represent economy? Does it represent a burden being imposed on one section of the community?

With the possible exception of Fremantle, Sydney and Melbourne, all the ports of Australia are facing some problem as a result of the introduction of the types of ships I have referred to. An urgency motion was moved in this House and in the Senate by honourable members and senators concerned with the welfare of the people of Tasmania. That motion complained of insufficient shipping facilities for Tasmania and also increased freight charges. The Port of Newcastle has its own problems. The waterfront unions are continually meeting to discuss problems within the industry. Employers, through the Chamber of Commerce Shipping Committee, are continually meeting in the endeavour to solve problems created by the introduction of containerisation and similar types of shipping. The same can be said about the Port of Albany in Western Australia, Portland, Adelaide, Brisbane and all other ou '-ports.

Before the introduction of containerisation these ports had a regular flow of ships which picked up particular cargoes. This applies particularly to Portland and Albany where for many years conventional ships called to pick up wool and at the same time loaded and discharged general cargo. Now, as a result of containerisation, the wool is being shipped in containers to the central port which in Western Australia is Fremantle, in New South Wales is Sydney, and in Victoria it is Melbourne. The result has been that ships which previously called at these out-ports to pick up wool now have to collect the wool at the central port and do not collect or discharge general cargo at the outport. This in itself is having a serious effect on labour. The frequency of visits by ships has been reduced. Previously in some ports there may have been a weekly, a monthly or a 3-monthly visit by ships of a particular line to pick up certain commodities. Monthly visits have now become 3-monthly or 4-monthly visits. As a result people who export particular goods have had to find a means of stowing those goods and of transporting them to the buyer, which invariably means that the cargo has to be sent from the port where it was previously shipped back to the central port or to one of the three which I have referred to - Fremantle, Melbourne or Sydney.

This problem should be examined by a government department, whether it be the Department of Labour and National Service, the Department of Shipping and Transport or the Department of Trade and Industry. The problem is growing day by day because of the effects that it is having on industry. I know that industries in Newcastle in my electorate are greatly inconvenienced, particularly in the shipment of mineral sands, phosphate and the like. Whereas they had a regular calling of ships on a set timetable, they now have to ship through Sydney.

Even organisations like the Newcastle Branch of Aid-Retarded Persons New South Wales are affected by containerisation. The Newcastle Branch of this body has built up a connection with an importer in Malaysia and regularly ships large quantities of paper to Malaysia. From this the organisation receives considerable revenue and it provides employment for people who need specialised type of employment. The branch rang me recently to tell me that it had so much paper it did not know where to put it. Its officers could hardly move in its establishment which was so stacked with paper. The organisation could not get a ship to call to take the paper away. Although only a small amount of profit is involved, the collection and export of this paper provides employment. However, the organisation cannot afford the cost of shipping the paper to Sydney for export to Malaysia. This is another of the problems that has arisen as a result of the changeover from conventional type shipping to containerisation.

In the last report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority reference is made to the amount of time lost by men in the industry. I address my remarks to the number of cases in which hours have been lost not as a result of the employees' actions but as a result of delays occasioned by employers, invariably the shipowners. In many cases hours have been lost because gear for handling cargo has not conformed with the Navigation (Loading and Unloading - Safety Measures) Regulations. This is the responsibility of the employers of waterfront labour and the shipowners. In 1964-65 there were 148 cases resulting in a loss of 14,494 hours; in 1965-66 there were 108 cases involving 13,530 man hours lost; in 1966-67 a total of 14,425 man hours were lost; in 1967-68 there were 140 cases with 17,526 hours lost; and in 1968-69, which was the worst year, there were 243 cases costing 22.446 hours. Thus in the last 5 years, because of employer negligence, 82,421 man hours have been lost.

When the. Stevedoring Industry Authority is critical of the trade union movement for taking strike action I feel that it should also try to rectify the situation to which I have just referred. All of the stoppages could have been avoided if management, employers of labour and shipowners had been prepared to rectify the things about which the men went on strike. Let me instance some of the faulty gear involved in 1968-69. There were 45 cases of defective winches and/or cranes involving the loss of 2,990 man hours; there were 27 cases of defective ships gangways and 1 ,264 hours were lost: defective cargo runner splices - 22 cases and 3,081 hours lost; and defective hold ladders - 1 1 cases and 324 hours lost. There is no justification for ladders in ships holds being defective. There is no justification for gangways being defective or for winches and cranes being defective. There were 85 cases of unmarked or defective items of cargo gear, and these involved 1 1 ,560 hours tost. These are all items that should have been rectified by the shipowners or by employers of waterfront labour. If they had been reclined it would have eliminated one of the features of waterfront employment that needle men in the industry or. for that matter, in any industry. Men do not want to work under unsafe conditions and frequently they have to take the action of stopping work to get these defects remedied.

Prior to the commencement of this debate the Minister made a statement during which he said:

There will be no retrenchment of the ASIA staff within the next 12 months except in those ports in which permanent employment is introduced in that period.

We accept the position that when permanency is introduced into a port there are problems associated with it, but if it is adequately planned in advance and men are acquainted with what their position will be many of the problems associated with redundancy can be overcome. However there seems to be a contradiction in that statement when it is compared with the roneod copy of the Minister's second reading speech in which he said:

True, further potts may become permanent ports over the next 2 years, but this is simply in accordance with the intention and authority of the Temporary Provisions Act introduced in 1.967. Thus, 1 do not anticipate that the enactment of this legislation will have any direct effect on the employment position of ASIA staff.

I ask honourable members to note that in that quote he referred to 2 years, yet in his statement 12 months was mentioned. Later in his second reading speech the Minister said:

Over the next 2 years the Government will be giving detailed consideration to what the permanent role of a statutory authority in this industry should be.

Again he mentions 2 years. Later, he said:

However, I reiterate once again that there should be no cause for concern about redundancy on a major scale within the next 2 years.

1.   wonder whether the Minister has become confused. I hope that I am not. In a document drawn up after an agreement with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Federated Clerks Union he spoke of a period of 12 months. He gave an assurance of 12 months continuity of employment. Yet in his second reading speech he has referred all the way through to 2 years. I repeal the final' quote from his speech:

Hovever, I reiterate once again that there should be no cause for concern about redundancy on a major SCale within the next 2 years.

I hope that there will be no redundancy in

2.   3 or 4 years. The Government should bc prepared to give some consideration to my suggestions which I know have the support of the industry and the support of my Party. The Opposition believes that the Austraiian Stevedoring Industry Authority should be extending its activities to encompass those matters to which I have referred. If need be, a complete stevedoring unit could be set up to carry out the work of stevedoring and, most importantly, it could work with the States or with authorities in the States in developing ports. After all it is through ports that Australian imports and exports are transported. If we do not have first class ports that are comparable in efficiency with overseas ports obviously we are placing an additional financial burden on our trade which makes it more difficult for our exporters to compete on the world market.

The Opposition supports the legislation. The provision relating to the Stevedoring Industry Council is an improvement, lt will put on a permanent basis something that has been temporary. People in the industry were not sure whether it was going to continue or what its function would be in the future. Now that it has been put on a permanent basis we hope that when the new legislation is brought down within the next 2 years everyone in the industry will know where they are going, particularly those people in the Federated Clerks Union who at present are greatly concerned about their future.

Mr FOSTER(Sturt) [3.91-1 support the Bill and in so doing want to trace somewhat briefly the history of the trade union movement in respect of the waterfront. Originally the waterfront unions came into being because of the imposition of shocking conditions in The Rocks area of Sydney in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s when waterfront employees were a disorganised force of people who were traded upon by independent shipowners and were subjected to the most frightful conditions imaginable, as were their counterparts of that day in the United Kingdom. One of the founders was a person who became Prime Minister of this country. This man, who had led the Labor Party, apparently forgot later the very sound principles that he had learnt in his early years and became the Prime Minister of Australia as leader of another Party.

Organised labour commenced from that point of time. The union has indeed been, in the eyes of our political opponents, an extremely boisterous and militant union, because the people now on the Government benches have never endeavoured to understand the waterfront industry and its problems. They have never endeavoured to understand the system, if one may refer to it as such, of exploitation by those of greed of those who were expecting a fair share of what they were entitled to for their work and because of the conditions under which they worked and a whole host of other things. The industry during the course of the mid- 1920s or late 1920s was lorn asunder by industrial strife when one union was set against another. During the depression years one of the most shocking systems of engaging labour in this country or any other country - at least by western standards - was introduced. It was one of the most shocking systems ever imposed on the waterfront industry. This was the bull system of picking up labour. Under this system men were given favours by bosses because they were prepared to settle a bar score for the bosses or were prepared perhaps to pay other bills that the bosses would run up generally in waterfront business houses. This is a system that can indeed only be described as shocking.

Where then did human dignity manifest itself? How far can one push a human being and expect him not to realise that he is a human being? During the course of the late 1930s men throughout Australia who had been subjected to these intolerable conditions realised that they had little to lose by taking the form of action that they did take in the late 1 930s and early 1 940s. They demanded such things as a rosier system that had as its purpose the taking away from the bosses, the foremen and the bulls of the industry the right to he rc-employ-sd day after day whereas their fellows in the industry were getting no monetary return whatsoever. What was wrong with the very fine principle that the amount of work available in the industry should be shared by all in the industry? Under the bull system 15% got everything that was going and all the monetary it-turn, and everyone else had to share absolute and utter poverty. From this state of affairs grew the combined action of union men who expressed themselves in a very militant fashion. This was brought about, of course, by the conditions under which they were expected to slave. They came up against the system of the masters, the absentee employers, the shipowners, the shipowners' agents, the stevedoring companies, the shipowners' imported supervisors and all these other attendant difficulties.. Of course, as soon as the union saw that the labour position in the late 1930s and into the 1940s was such that they were in a better posi-lion industrially, is it any wonder that it resorted to the type of action that it was forced into in a desire to win conditions of no less value than those in industry generally? There were . many bitter fights in regard to these matters.

During the early 1940s, after the Treasury bench here was vacated by the political opponents of the trade union movement generally, the Stevedoring Industry Commission was set up. There was provision on the Commission for what one would like to be able to regard as being equal representation. There was representation for the employers, which gave the shipowner representation because of his right to appoint those representatives who were managers of stevedoring companies and the like. Also there were representatives of the trade union movement - namely of the Waterside Workers Federation. While one does not dispute that there were disputes during the war years - and much criticism flowed to the organisation because it took strike action - at least I was one who was in the field and realised the union's position. I did not in any way criticise it for the form of action it was forced to take to ensure that its members would not return to a form of the treatment after the cessation of hostilities that had been imposed on them for many scores of years. However, there were many conditions that the union saw fit to act against, such as men working around the clock continuously - working on the job for scores of hours, almost, at a time. The union saw fit to introduce a shift system into the industry. Was there anything wrong with this? Everyone else in industry had these conditions. But the conditions could not be obtained without head on clashes with management and the like.

After the war years the union had to resort to very strong and firm militant action to win the condition that workers in the industry were not required to stay on the job, not just for 24 hours but for something like double and more. Of course, this led to industrial disputation. There was some difference of opinion between the government of the day and the union about the Stevedoring Industry Commission which led to the removal of the 2 representatives of the Federation. Later the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board was set up, and representation was denied to the Federation. This laid the foundation for many a bitter struggle that ensued over the years and continued to make itself felt within the industry right up to 1965. During this, period the Federation was engaged in some struggles about conditions that other unionists had enjoyed and, of course, which some unionists had not enjoyed. This placed the Federation, very proudly, in the forefront as a condition winner for a number of organisations, a role which it still continues to play very admirably on behalf of the whole trade union movement. The Federation ought to be commended for adopting that line. I hope and trust that the union will continue to do that.

I would, of course, deplore that in this day and age the union would have to continue to resort to industrial action to achieve those worthwhile gains - worthwhile in the eyes of its membership and the eyes of the leaders of the trade union movement who represent that membership. The industry wanted such things as annual leave, payment for sick leave and payment for public holidays. But the union was not able to achieve these simple conditions that had prevailed for many years in other industries throughout the Commonwealth. Any case put forward by anyone in the industry, be it the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, which was set up in about 1956, the employer organisations, or any direct representation by the Federation through the Australian Council of Trade Unions which is the recognised head of the trade union movement - and these bodies met consistently - was not acceded to. The requests of the trade unions were not accepted on such matters as the simple conditions of annual leave, public holidays, guaranteed shifts. As a result, unsettled conditions started to manifest themselves. Pensions were mentioned many, many years ago also. Pension rights were not achieved for some considerable time after.

Let me continue along in this speech, as it were, to what happened in 1965. Continual disputes occurred throughout the industry. We in the Australian Waterside Workers Federation were accused by almost all Government members of being led by Communists. We were anarchists and all sorts of violent, frightful things. Many legislative measures moved against the trade union movement in this chamber by the Government were directed against the Federation in the stupid and forlorn hope - the Government was misguided then; I hope that it does not continue to be misguided in the future - that such measures in fact would overcome the problems of an industry fraught with problems.

The Government, the Department of Labour and National Service and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority were never prepared really to examine the industry at its grass roots. Many a committee was set up. One such committee was the Bastin Committee which delivered a report on permanency and other provisions for the industry. The Government shelved that report. It looked at it occasionally, ft was not prepared to do anything constructive about the recommendations in that report. Bastin finished up disgusted no doubt because, despite his efforts, the Government took no action with respect to some of the grass roots problems associated with an important industry in the transport field to which he drew its attention.

In the early 1960s, the Government commenced a vicious campaign. This was done with the Austraiian Stevedoring Industry Authority. Before I proceed to deal with that, I draw to the attention of the House a matter that 1 did not intend to mention. In that time, 2 strikes took place. One was held in 1954 and lasted for 2 weeks; the other, held in 1956, continued for approximately the same time. Each of these strikes would have been avoided if some proper and clear understanding had existed, in the first instance, on the claims made regarding margins and, in the second instance, on the right to recruit. Neither of these 2 long drawn out strikes in which the workers struggled on for 3 weeks would have been necessary if commonsense had prevailed and the employers, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, and the Government ministers of the day had been prepared to sit down, realise the merits of the claims and consider them on a proper basis.

I come lo the 1960s When the Waterside Workers Federation and the trade union movement on the waterfront were attacked viciously on disciplinary measures. Breaches or alleged breaches by nien, including foremen and supervisors, in the main capital city ports, were reported. These men were marched up before the Authority and were suspended for 1 day, 2 days, 4 days, or even up to 3 weeks. Naturally, their fellow workers were incensed by such vicious injustice. No right of appeal of any type was available to any tribunal or inquiry. No rights of appeal, in the real sense of the term, existed. The burden of proof was with the individuals concerned, the trade union organisations and in every direction other than those who were intent on this stupid idea that they would destroy the militant action of waterside workers and would deny to them their rights to set about winning further conditions for themselves, by application of this most vicious system of discipline.

A system known on the waterfront as the hostage system' was introduced. This was one of the most vicious schemes ever introduced industrially in this Commonwealth. Let me illustrate what happened. If you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I were suspended and our mates went out on strike in support ot us. the Authority would say: 'Well, you are suspended for a normal working day*. In 2 ports in Australia, sonic 5,000 or 6.000 members - a paltry number of men - could be out on strike because of some intolerable condition of employment that affected you and me. A waterside worker who was at home on that occasion unable to work would be informed that he had been suspended for that day or for the period of the stoppage. To the suspension for 1 day might be added another day's suspension, and so on and so on. With measures such as these being imposed upon workers in the industry, how could the Government and others concerned hope to achieve industrial peace in this field in Australia? These people were proud and glad to call themselves Australians.

In 1965 a most vicious piece of legislation was introduced into this House by the then Minister for Labour and National Service, the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon). That legislation was introduced in the forlorn hope that it would cure once again the ills of the waterfront industry. I sat in the Opposition gallery in this chamber as I see people sitting in it this afternoon. I found it almost impossible to restrain myself as I listened to the then Minister for Labour and National Service deliver his second reading speech. My feelings at that time were the same as they are at this moment as I consider this legislation. Casting my mind back, I remember that my feelings were those of absolute disgust to think that there were people who purported to have any common sense at all and who were endeavouring to introduce a measure of that type in the hope that it would cure industrial ills and bring about industrial peace. I was filled with a feeling of disgust that they were born in the same country as I.

That legislation provided for and sought to aid and abet any small number of men in ports like Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle, Brisbane and Hobart who to gather together and to form themselves into a trade union organisation correctly regarded as a scab organisation. That organisation was given the blessing of the Minister of the day and the Government of the day in order to pit the loyalties of one man against another man and to aid and abet as well as to encourage it. That was the thinking of members of the Government some of whom, unfortunately, are still here. They thought that they could overcome such industrial unrest by that type of legislation.

This belief is shown in all these Hansards that I have before me on my desk. It would take me a considerable time to refer to each passage and to read it. The Communist element is mentioned God knows how many times. The present Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) won his way into this House by witch hunting on the waterfront. This won him a position on the ministerial front bench of the Government. He was successful because of his witch hunting and head hunting on the waterfront and because of the fact that he could name who were and who were not

Communists. But, finally, he had to back off because he could not say that some 26,000 members of the trade union movement working on the waterfront are all Communists; nor could he say that all the officials in the trade union movement were Communists. At the time when he was making these allegations, I was sitting on the Federal Council of the organisation. I have sat as a member of that body since 1959. I am not going to say in this chamber what my attitude was regarding what the Minister may have thought or what he may still think. The point I want to make is the absolute stupidity of the Government of the day in thinking for a moment that it could cure the industrial ills of this industry by such action.

What then did it do? Have honourable members opposite ever sat down to reflect on what their Government did in 1965? The effect of the action of the Government was to unite the Australian Waterside Workers Federation and its members more than ever. All members - man to man, gang to gang on the waterfront, port to port, output to mainport and mainport to capita] port - were determined that they were not going to allow that type of legislation to break their ranks. Honourable members must realise that this was just what they were able to do.

They, in association with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, took over the role of the negotiator. The then President of the ACTU sought to confer with the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, who at that time became more closely associated with the waterfront. He became Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The President of the ACTU was able to confer with the then Prime Minister who had this somewhat false title bestowed upon him. He was able to convince the Prime Minister that in fact the trade union movement was rallying on the basis that it would not cop this type of legislation. As a result of that legislation and unknown to the government of the day an inquiry was set up and discussions took place for some considerable time. I was engaged in some of them. Recommendations were sent to stop work meetings from time to time throughout the length and breadth of the country, progress reports of what was taking place at those conferences were presented and finally the vast majority of members of the trade union movement associated with the waterfront accepted from their leaders the concept of permanency on the waterfront, at least at capital ports in the initial stages. The Bill before us this afternoon - I almost said tonight' by habit - makes provision for a continuation of the permanency agreements throughout the Commonwealth. We do not oppose the Bill in any way, shape or form but permit me to say, if 1 may, if the Government, in view of the increased efficiency and throughput on the waterfront today, and having regard to the shocking mistakes of the Minister for Trade and industry (Mr McEwen) and the Federation in wrapping themselves up in the containerisation programme, had had enough commonsense, decency and recognition of this, it would have removed by this Bill those lousy clauses that it was so stupid to put on the statute book in .1965. lt is never too late to hope that the Government might do this but it will not be given the opportunity. The. Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) sees lit to interject at the last stage of my speech. I told him once before in this House that Attorneys-General come last so I will put him last. He and the Government he supports have been so muddled in their thinking on the various amendments - this is perhaps one of them - that they have put in the Stevedoring Industry Act that his Department is unable even lo interpret the rubbish that the Government has included in the Bill from time to time. He would be hard pressed to state points with clarity let alone an interpretation of the measures that they in desperation have seen fit lo put through. I wind up on the note that the Government will not be in charge of the next Bill relative to the mailer that comes down after some 2 years. The Party occupying the Opposition benches today will be the Government, lt is the only Party which recognises the industrial rights of wage and salary earners generally, and it will take care of them because it understands people.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a .second time.

In Committee

The BUI.

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